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Flak – from a modeller's viewpoint (part II of II)

by Dan Mouritzsen

[Click here to view Part 1 of this article.]

Ammunition details

There were 14 main types of Flak guns used by the Germans during WWII. in addition, several captured so-called Beutewaffen were also used. However, they will not be covered in this article.

  Gun feed by Weight of round/ mag. Ammunition storage*
2cm Flak 28 (Oerlikon) 15 round magazine 6.3kg Airtight amm. Box. 130 cartridges 49kg
2cm Flak 30
2cm Flak 38
2cm Geb. Flak 38
2cm Flak Vierling 38
20 round magazine 9.5kg

Airtight amm. Box.
100 cartridges 45.5 kg

3.7cm Flak 18
3.7cm Flak 36/37
6 round clip

Single shot – (Stiel-Gr. 41)


Airtight amm. Box. 18
12 cartridges 25 kg
- Airtight amm. Box.
16 cartridges 31 kg
- Airtight amm. Con.
1 grenade 10.4kg
3.7cm Flak 43 8 round clip 16.5kg Airtight amm. Box.
16 cartridges 31kg
4cm Flak 28 4 round clip 2.10kg Amm. Box
8 cartridges 22kg - 20 cartridges 61kg
5cm Flak 41 5 round clip 30kg Airtight amm. Box. 41
3 cartridges 19kg
8.8cm Flak 18/36/37 Single shot HE 14.7kg
AP 15.3kg
Amm. wicker basket
3 cartridges 56kg
- Amm. Box
3 cartridges 60kg
- Airtight amm. Con.
1 cartridge 20kg
8.8cm Flak 41 Single shot HE 19.2kg
AP 19.8kg
Airtight amm. Con.
1 cartridge 25kg
- Amm. box
2 cartridges 50kg
10.5cm Flak 38/39 Single shot HE 26kg
AP 26.1kg
Amm. Con. 38
1 cartridge 32kg
- Amm. box
2 cartridges 62kg
12.8cm Flak 40 Single shot HE 47.7kg
AP 46.5kg
Amm. Box 40
1 cartridge 72kg

* New ammunition boxes (factory fresh).

Abbreviations/ explanations:

1. Airtight = The wooden box had an airtight sheet metal lining.
2. Amm. = Ammunition.
3. AP = Armour piercing.
4. Con. = Container (tube container).
5. Geb. = Gebirge (Mountain (Gun for mountain troops)).
6. Gr. = Granate (grenade)
7. HE = High Explosive
8. kg = Kilogram
9. Mag. = Magazine
10. Stiel = (stick)


Samples of text on ammunition boxes and containers
  Ammunition Boxes and containers
2cm Flak 28 2cm Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
2cm Pzgr. Patr.
2cm Pl. Patr.
Patronenkasten 18.
2cm Flak 30
2cm Flak 38
2cm Geb. Flak 38
2cm Flak Vierling 38
2cm Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
2cm Sprgr. Patr. Đb.
2cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. vk L/Spur W.
2cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
2cm Pzgr. Patr.
2cm Pzgr. Patr. L/Spur

HEERES Munition1
3.7cm Flak 18

3.7cm Flak 36/37
3.7cm Sprgr. Patr. 18
3.7cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
3.7cm Pzgr. Patr. 18
3.7cm H. Pzgr. Patr. L/Spur o. Zerl.
3.7cm H. Pzgr. Patr. L/Spur m. Zerl.

3.7cm Stielgranate 412
Patronenkasten 18.

d. 3.7cm Flak 18.

 Mun. 3.7 Flak (Stiel-Gr.)
3.7cm Flak 43 3.7cm Sprgr. Patr. 18
3.7cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
3.7cm Pzgr. Patr. 18

3.7cm H. Pzgr. Patr. L/Spur o. Zerl.
Patronenkasten 18.

d. 3.7cm Flak 18.
4cm Flak 28 4cm Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
4cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. L/Spur
4cm Flak 28.
5cm Flak 41 5cm Sprgr. Patr. 41 L/Spur
5cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. 41 L/Spur
5cm Pzgr. Patr. 42
Patronenkasten 41

d. 5cm Flak 41.
8.8cm Flak 18/36/37 8.8cm Sprgr. Patr. L/4,5
8.8cm Pzgr. Patr.
8.8cm Pzgr. Patr. 39
8.8cm Hl.G. Patr. 39 Flak
8.8cm Pzgr. Patr. 40
8.8cm Leucht-geschoss L/4,4
8.8cm Flak 18. 

Luftdichter Patronenbeh”lter 8.8cm Flak 18.
8.8cm Flak 41 8.8cm Sprgr. Patr. Flak 41
8.8cm Sprgr. Patr. Flak 41 Gerillt
8.8cm Pzgr. Patr. 39 Flak 41
8.8cm Pzgr. Patr. 40 Flak 41
Patronenkastend. 8.8cm Flak 41.

Luftdichter Patronenbeh”lter 8.8cm Flak 41.
10.5cm Flak 38/39 10.5cm Sprgr. Patr. L/4,4
10.5cm Sprgr. L/4.4 Gerillt

10.5cm Pzgr. Patr. Flak
10.5cm Pz. Sprgr. Patr. Flak
Patronenkastend. 10.5cm Flak 38.

Luftdichter Patronenbeh”lter 10.5cm Flak 38.
12.8cm Flak 40 12.8cm Sprgr. Patr. L/4.5 Flak 40
12.8cm Br. Schr. Flak 40
Pzgr. Patr. Flak 40
Patronenkasten 40.

1. Also Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine.
2. The fin-stabilised muzzle-loaded hollow charge stick grenade, fired by a special blank cartridge. The 3.7cm Pak L/45, also used this grenade.

Abbreviations/ translations:
1. 8.8cm Br. Sprgr. Patr. (Grün) L/Spur = 8.8cm high explosive incendiary grenade cartridge with a green tracer.
2. Br. = Brand (incendiary).
3. d. = Der (For). (Patronkasten d. 8.8cm Flak 41 = Ammunition box for 8.8cm Flak 41).
4. Gerillt = Grooved: (a shell engraved with 15 longitudinal grooves to improve fragmentation.)
5. Gesamtgew = total weight (in kilos).
6. Gr. = Granate (grenade).
7. H = Haube (ballistic capped grenade).
8. HEERES Munition = Army ammunition (LUFTWAFFE Munition – KRIEGSMARINE Munition).
9. Hl.G. = Hohlladungs-Granate (hollow charge grenade).
10. L/4,5 or 18 = (type).
11. L/Spur = Leuchtspur (tracer).
12. Leuchtgeschoss = illuminating shot (parachute-suspended illuminating unit, or star shell).
13. Luftdichter = Airtight.
14. m. = Mit. (with)
15. Mun. = Munition (ammunition).
16. o. = Ohne (without).
17. Patr. = Patrone (Cartridge).
18. Patronenbehälter = Cartridge container (tube container).
19. Patronenkasten = Cartridge box.
20. Pl. = Platzpatrone (blank cartridge; a cartridge with a hollow wooden bullet for blank firing).
21. Pzgr. = Panzergranate (armour piercing grenade).
22. Schr. = schrapnel (shrapnel).
23. Sprgr. = Sprenggranate (high explosive grenade).
24. Stiel = Stick.
25. Üb. = Übung (exercise, practice inert).
26. vk. = Verkürzt (shortened i.e with a short-burning tracer).
27. W. = Warme Übertragung (heat transmitted, i.e. tracer initiated self-destruction).
28. Zerl. = Zerlegung (self-destructing).

(Left) Figure 21: All 2cm ammunition came in 100–130 round boxes packed individually in a rolled paper cylinder. As soon as there was time for it, the ammunition was unpacked and loaded in the empty magazines. Normally the Germans mixed the rounds so every fifth round was a tracer but late in the war, they changed that so every third or second was a tracer. The idea was to make the attacking planes think that a higher amount of shells were coming their way.

(Left) Figure 22: 2cm Flak 30/38 magazine container. Containers for the Flak 18/36/37 and 43 had the same design, but were accordingly larger, so they could contain the 6- and 8-round clips. Note the colour.

(Left) Figure 23: 2cm Flak 30/38 magazine container.

(Left) Figure 24: 2cm Flak 30/38 magazine container.


(Left) Figure 25: A sample of two paper labels to be found on both the side and the end of the ammunition boxes and ammunition containers. All ammunition boxes and containers, no matter what calibre, had these paper labels attached on the outside to identify the contents. The paper labels normally measured 7x10cm Some of them could have a green, blue, yellow or red 3cm-wide bar running across them or in the middle of the label from top to bottom to identify what colour of tracer/fuse there was within. In addition, triangles in the corners of the label in the colours of the tracers are also visible (see Fig.27).


(Left) Figure 26: Paper label from a 2cm ammunition box.


(Left) Figure 27: Luftdichter Patronenkasten d. 3.7cm Flak 18. Note the colour, text and paper label. It is exactly the same container type as used for the German stick hand grenade.


(Left) Figure 28: 2cm ammunition box. Note the colour and text.


(Left) Figure 29: Sample of the text on the wooden lid of a typical ammunition box. (1.) is where the paper label is placed on the inside of the lid and (2) is were it is placed on the outside. The text Luftdichter Patronenkasten could be substituted by the total amount of rounds inside and types of gun the ammunition inside were for like: first line – 100, second line - 2cm Flak 30/38. The colours of all the different ammunition boxes/containers were either natural wood, dark green or sand.


(Left) Figure 30: The Luftdichter Patronenbehälter was a sheet metal tube container looking a lot like an elongated German gasmask container with a metal wire carrying handle at both ends. The cartridges were always stored with the bottom at the opening end. A wooden support spacer in the bottom of the container kept the cartridge nose cone centred and protected the fuse. The container could be with or without ribs. (1) is where the paper label was placed on the side of the container. Note there was also a label on both the outside and on the inside of the lid. The colours were dark green or sand. Also, note that it only opens at one end.

Shells/ basic body colours - all calibres:

Olive green, olive drab or field grey: High explosive (only non anti-aircraft), anti-concrete, smoke, chemical or hollow charge shells, and case shots.
Black: Armour piercing shot or shell.
Yellow: Anti-aircraft high explosive shell.
Red and blue: Anti-aircraft incendiary shrapnel shell.
Pale green: Star shell.


Cartridge cases/basic body colours - all calibres:

(Left) Figure 31: These 7.92mm cartridge case colours are the same as their bigger sisters. From left - Brass with copper shine, two different brass colours (unpolished-polished), Steel with a shiny light field grey lacquer layer, Steel with a shiny greenish lacquer layer. Here you should note that the 2cm guns were the only ones that used steel cartridges with the grey/greenish lacquer layer.

(Left) Figure 32: Steel 3.7cm Flak cartridges in matt light field grey colour, the brown stuff is not rust but weapon grease.

Brass cartridges: Brass – some brass cartridges could also have a copper shine. 2cm–12.8cm.
Steel cartridges: Shiny greenish lacquer layer. 2cm only.
Steel cartridges: Shiny light field grey lacquer layer. 2cm only.
Steel cartridges: Matt light field grey. 2cm–12.8cm
Steel cartridges: Shiny green. Only produced from February 1945 until end of war. 2cm–3.7cm.
Steel/brass cartridges: Steel cartridge with a very thin brass skin covering the steel. This brass skin had a slight copper shine. (This was an attempt to reduce the wear and tear on the gun chambers caused by ordinary steel cartridges). 2cm–12.8cm


Fuse/basic colours - all calibres:

Nose fuse: Silver coloured Aluminium (in case of two fuse types AZ. Zt.Z. in the same shell, the other one was placed in the bottom of the shell “Bodenzünder”).


Tracer markings/ Basic colours - all calibres:

(Left) Figure 33: 2cm Flak 30/38 HE shell with a red tracer.

A 5mm-wide red, green, yellow or white band on or just above the shell's driving band on the calibres from 2cm to 4cm. The rest had a 1cm-wide band. The band reflected the shell's tracer colour. Red was the most common.


Incendiary markings/basic colours - all calibres:

(Left) Figure 34: 2cm Flak 30/38 shells. "Edq" is the manufacturer's code. In this case Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken A.-G Lübeck-Schlutup.

A 5mm-wide blue band just below the nose fuse and or a 12mm high white or black Ph (phosphorus) stamped on the side of shell.


Text stamped on shells and cartridge cases - all calibres:

(Left) Figure 36: 10.5cm cartridges:
A. HE shell.
B. 1941 AP ballistic capped.
C. 1943 AP ballistic capped.
1. From early-1943, the noses of the 8.8cm–12.8cm AP shells were painted white to help loading them in the dark. The HE shells already had a silver coloured aluminium tip so it was not necessary to paint them.
2. 14, 28, 86, 92 are bursting charge numbers. Place, day, month, year of fusing with work mark.
3. Place, day, month, year of shell filling with work mark. KPS, FES or KES is the type of driving band.
4. Colour of tracer band.
5. Weight of propelling charge.
6. Type of propellant.
7. Location, year, delivery number of propellant.
8. Place, day, month, year of manufacture with work mark.
Text was stamped on in either black or white paint depending on the colour of the cartridge.


(Left) Figure 37: Work mark placed in a square on a 3.7cm shell. Note that a protective layer of weapon grease has been smeared on the entire shell/cartridge to protect it against moisture but at the same time making the colour look a bit darker.(The vk. on the shell before the L’spur (tracer) means Verkürzt – "shortened". It has a short burning tracer).


(Left) Figure 35: 10.5cm cartridges. He and AP ballistic capped. The large II, III, IV are the weight classes. KPS, FES or KES stands for the bimetallic type of driving band.


Normal combat load for a 2cm and a 8.8cm gun in 1940

In 1940 the normal combat load of ammunition for one gun for a normal Flak Zug was:

200 - Sprgr. Patr. Percussion fused.
200 - Sprgr. Patr. Time fused.
100 - Pzgr. Patr.

4800 - Sprgr. Patr. Percussion fused.
200 - Sprgr. Patr. Time fused.
100 - Pzgr. Patr.

During the war this changed slightly due to shortages and new types of ammunition coming into use.


Die Flak Stellungen ein Typen heft (1944, German handbook, WWII origin)
Recognition handbook for German ammunition (1945, Allied forces handbook, WWII origin)
The Luftwaffe data book (ISBN 1-85367-293-9)
German Flak in WWII (ISBN 0-7643-0399-6)
Die leichte und mittlere Flak 1906 – 1945 (ISBN 3-7909-0395-7)
FLAK im Einsatz 1939–1945 (ISBN 3-7909-0562-3)
Der geschichte der deutschen Flakartillerie 1939-1945 (ISBN 3-7909-0166-0)

Dan Mouritzsen, 2003.